Barcelona will move on to the Champions League knockout stages as Group B winners thanks to a 2-1 victory over PSV Eindhoven. It was a very tough away night in Europe as expected, but Lionel Messi came up big with a goal and an assist to give his team the win in the Netherlands.
PSV needed a win to keep their Europa League hopes alive, and they played like it in the first half. Their high pressing and pace up front troubled Barça’s defense, and the Blaugrana had a lot of issues getting out of their own half. Gastón Pereiro was a problem, and he had two major chances to score early on.
After surviving the early storm, Barça improved and responded with pressure of their own. Ousmane Dembélé and Lionel Messi linked up well and created chances, and PSV had to clear the ball off the line twice when Arturo Vidal came really close to scoring. Philippe Coutinho also had a big chance, but his shot was blocked.
At halftime, a very competitive game was goalless, but it definitely looked as though the ball would find the back of the net in the second half.
The start of the second half was a lot less intense than the first, with both teams clearly more cautious in their approach to avoid silly mistakes. Barça looked more comfortable with the PSV press, and started to dominate the proceedings. They also got a goal, and it was scored by Lionel Messi with a truly fantastic finish between three defenders from an impossible angle.
Things got even better for Barça ten minutes later, when Gerard Piqué deflected home a Lionel Messi free kick and doubled the Blaugrana lead. PSV had no choice but to send everyone forward, and they had some hope when Luuk De Jong headed home a cross from the left.
The final 10 minutes were nervous for Barça as PSV pushed hard for an equalizer, and Malcom wasted a golden chance to kill the game for good on the counter attack, but Barça held on to the narrow win and have clinched first place with a game to spare. Well done, team. This was good.
Barcelona: Ter Stegen; Semedo, Piqué, Lenglet, Alba; Vidal, Busquets, Rakitic; Dembélé (Denis), Messi, Coutinho (Malcom)
Goals: Messi (61’), Piqué (70’)
PSV: Zoet; Dumfries, Schwaab, Viergever, Angeliño; Rosario, De Jong, Hendrix (Gutiérrez), Pereiro (Malen); Lozano, Bergwijn (Romero)
Goal: De Jong (82’)